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Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats
The St. Louis Rams, though downgraded to a "Really Good Show on Turf," still are expected to be a tall order for the battered and bruised Patriots on Sunday.
01:00 AM EST on Thursday, November 4, 2004
BY TOM E. CURRAN
Journal Sports Writer
FOXBORO -- It's said that the Rams' offensive plays are like snowflakes -- no two are ever the same. And when they string enough of those adorable little snowflakes together, a defense can find itself first snowblind and then buried.
Is it still "The Greatest Show on Turf" (one of the all-time great team nicknames, by the way)? St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger said the 2004 offensive edition of the Rams probably isn't. But he does believe they're at least "A Really Good Show on Turf."
The Patriots, battered, bruised and bandaged (but also 6-1), have the chore of trying to stop "The Show" on Sunday. Stop it after St. Louis has had a week off to rest its bones and regroup after a stunning 31-14 loss to hopeless Miami. Stop it without the best cornerback in football the last seven seasons -- Ty Law -- and his secondary colleague Tyrone Poole. Stop it as the Rams look to rev it up and close the first half of their season on an uptick.
Even with the Patriots' injuries (in addition to being without Law and Poole, Corey Dillon and David Givens are 50-50 to play), this is a Class A matchup. It's the first meeting between the teams since Super Bowl 36, which was a pretty exciting game. And Bill Belichick and Mike Martz are simply the best in the business on their respective sides of the ball.
"Mike has as sophisticated and tough an offensive system to defend as anybody we ever played," Belichick said yesterday. "When I go into the (team) meeting today, (I) can't stand there and say, 'Here's two things we got to take care of.' There's going to be 82. And they mightdo 10 things that you didn't even talk about that you have to deal with."
So good are the Rams, Belichick divulged that he lets Martz's system take him to school in the offseason.
"Every year in the offseason, I watch them, study them, try to learn more about the passing game from them so I can implement certain aspects of it into our team. Our assistant coaches -- Josh (McDaniels, quarterbacks coach), Brian (Daboll, receivers coach) and Charlie (Weis, offensive coordinator) -- we spend time in the offseason watching them throw because, in all honesty, nobody throws it better."
Some of the usual culprits are still with the Rams -- wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, running back Marshall Faulk and tackle Orlando Pace. But Bulger is new to the Patriots, and St. Louis also has added burly and versatile running back Stephen Jackson.
The Patriots played the Rams twice in 2001. The first time, they blitzed a lot and beat up St. Louis but lost, 24-17. The second time, they laid back and hammered the Rams' receivers as they came off the line and when they caught the ball and ended up winning, 20-17.
Which has Martz singing the same song as Belichick.
"If you go into a game anticipating something you have seen before (and feel you can deal with it if it's different), you are going to be sorely mistaken," said the coach. "I know that there will be enough changeups and curveballs for us offensively. You have to stay on your toes. We don't have the luxury because we are not that good to feel like that. We don't have the same capabilities as we did then."
But neither do the Patriots. As good a rookie as Randall Gay is (please note, on the touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress that Gay allowed Sunday, the Patriots foolishly rushed seven men, leaving Gay without help), if he is responsible for 12 points or fewer on Sunday, that should be acceptable. This is going from driver's ed to the Indy 500.
The Rams, it's been said countless times, are a track team in shoulder pads.
"We have always wanted to play fast and furious and try to keep (the opposing) defense on the field as much as possible and not let their defense set the tone of the game," added Martz.
Bulger is no Kurt Warner. Warner -- who's now with the Giants -- wasn't really Warner after 2001. The unparalleled heights that offense hit that year and before haven't been reached since, which is part of the reason they're 4-3 now and went 7-9 last year. It's tough to keep playing at that level because synchronizing in all phases is necessary.
Not that the Rams have even considered going conventional.
"Mike keeps throwing logs on the pile," said Belichick. "He has 10 logs on the fire, then he drops a few more on."
Martz will be looking to drop points on the Pats Sunday. As many as he can. Despite the mutual respect he and Belichick seem to have for each other, Martz won't weep for the Patriots if he gets a measure of minor payback for Feb. 3, 2001. It would be the kind of win for St. Louis that could put "The Show" back on the road to "Greatest" again.
Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Patsthey're 4-3 now and went 7-9 last yearJUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
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Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats"Every year in the offseason, I watch them, study them, try to learn more about the passing game from them so I can implement certain aspects of it into our team. Our assistant coaches -- Josh (McDaniels, quarterbacks coach), Brian (Daboll, receivers coach) and Charlie (Weis, offensive coordinator) -- we spend time in the offseason watching them throw because, in all honesty, nobody throws it better."
Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for PatsOriginally Posted by sbramfan
Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for PatsBulger is no Kurt Warner
The second time, they laid back and hammered the Rams' receivers as they came off the line and when they caught the ball"Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
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